Thursday, January 30, 2014

Buffalo Hat

Since I posted the picture of the buffalo hat (made for a charity benefit) on Facebook, I have had a number of people ask me for the pattern.I don't have the hat in my possession any more to count stitches or make measurements, but I can give some guidelines on how I made it.

When I was asked to make a hat that looked like a buffalo for the upcoming Janice Cline Stem Cell Transplant Benefit, I did some internet searches for "buffalo hat". I've grown up seeing cartoons of buffalos all my life... living in the Buffalo, NY area. I had a very definite idea of what a buffalo should look like!  So, I just kept a few pictures in front of me and started working.

When I design a hat, I'm working with two basic tools: a chart of measurements so that I know what the finished size should be, and a basic pattern for a top-down hat.

Here is a link to a great chart for hat measurements: How to size crocheted hat I could see from my chart that for an adult hat, I needed to make a circle about 7" across.

The second item is a basic pattern for a top-down hat.
Round 1: 6 stitches in a ring (either a "Magic Ring" or chain 3 and slip stitch to form a ring)
Round 2: increase in each stitch
Round 3: *increase in first stitch, one stitch* repeat around
Round 4: *increase in first stitch, two stitches* repeat around
You get the idea... with each round, you're putting one more stitch between your increases. If you're doing single crochet, you don't have to join your rows. You can just keep working in one continuous row, using a stitch marker to let you know when you're starting a new row and need to change your increase numbers. For taller stitches, like half-double crochet or double crochet, you would need to join your rows and make a starting chain to start the next row.

You'll notice I just said "stitches"... you can make hats with single crochet, half-double crochet, double crochet, loop stitch, etc. Once you're got the basic pattern down, and a chart to tell you what size you're shooting for, you can adjust the hat to your own liking. The hat above used loop stitch to start out, for the shaggy look, and double crochet for the body of the hat.

You'll need:
Size J, H & G crochet hooks
Two shades of brown yarn
Small amount of white yarn for eyes
Small amount of off-white yarn for horns
Two small black buttons for eyes
Two medium black buttons (or "gemstones") for nostrils
Yarn needle
4 stitch markers

Okay, on to how I made the hat.
I had some yarn in my stash that was a bit heavier than knitting worsted. It was brown with black highlights (a thin, textured black yarn with a little bit of "eyelash" to it). I only had a little over an ounce of it, so I asked my daughter to find me a coordinating brown for the rest of the hat (I'm awful with matching colors). Shout out to Bethany for going down into the cold, cold basement to search through the brown yarn tote for me!

I started with a size J hook and did my first round of 6 single crochets in a magic ring. Then I switched to loop stitch and just keep on going until I ran out of yarn. Since it was hard to keep track of where my rows started under all those loops, I kept a stitch marker on the back side of my work.  My circle was about 6" across when I ran out of yarn. I was in the middle of a row, but loop stitch is forgiving... I switched to the brown knitting worsted and changed to double crochet, making that the new start of my row. When my circle got to 7" across (one row of dc), I stopped increasing. I worked even on those rows until the hat was long enough (I tried it on rather than measuring).

Marking earflaps:
Set the hat down flat with the seam where you joined your rounds at the center back. Place a marker one inch from each side. Flip hat over and place two more stitch markers, each 2" in from the sides. You'll have two 3" sections marked off on your hat for where the earflaps go. Now join yarn by one of  your markers.
Row 1 (and all odd rows): SC in each stitch. Chain 1, turn
Row 2 (and all even rows): Decrease over first two stitches. Work to within two stitches of end, work a decrease over those two stitches. Chain 1, turn.
Keep repeating those two rows until you have one or two stitches left. Finish off, leaving a 12" strand that will end up in your braided tie. Repeat for other 3" marked section for other earflap.

Braided tie:
I wrapped yarn around a 3-ring binder (top to bottom)  24 times and then cut it to get a bunch of strings for the ties. I put 8 at a time through stitches at the bottom of the earflap and then braided them. When I tied the end and trimmed them, I saved the yarn for stuffing the snout. (Can't you just hear your Grandma's voice saying "Waste not, want not"?)

Several of the pictures I looked at online had button eyes for their buffalo hats. I thought "Buffalos are BIG creatures. They have BIG eyes. I want something that pops out... something like those eyes I put on the octopus cup cozy a while back. So... I borrowed the eye pattern from this pattern. 

Horns (make 2):
I started with a size G crochet hook and off-white yarn. I made 3 sc in a magic ring and kept doing SC in a continuous round, increasing here and there, and doing half-double crochet on one side to give it that little bit of a curve. When I got to about 2" long, I ended off, leaving a long tail for sewing them on. Here is a pattern for horns if you would like more exact details.

Using the same color as the body of the hat and Size G hook, I made a chain about 1.5" long. I did one SC in the second chain and each chain across, then two more (total of three) in last chain. Then I did one SC in the back side of the chain, ending with two more in the same chain as the first sc on other side. This makes a long oval. I kept working around the oval, increasing at the four "corners". When the snout got to the right size (about 3-1/2 inches), I did 2-3 rows of single crochet without increases to make it "cup up" a bit. Finish off, leaving a long tail to sew on. Sew two medium size buttons or black gemstones on for nostrils.
Gemstones on Amazon

Ears (make 2):
Using the same color as the body of the hat and Size G hook, chain 5 (leave yourself 6-8" of yarn before your chain to sew ear on later).
Row 1: SC in 2nd chain from hook and each chain across. Ch 1, turn
Row 2: Increase in first stitch, sc in each stitch across rest of row. Ch 1, turn.
Row 3: Increase in first stitch, sc in each stitch across rest of row. Ch 1, turn.
Rows 4-6: Work even in SC
Row 7: Work a decrease over first two stitches. Work to last two stitches, work decrease. Ch 1, turn
Repeat Row 7 until you have one stitch left.  Finish off and weave in yarn end.

Sew on parts according to picture above. For an added touch (I thought of this while getting ready for work this morning), you could put a snap-ring in the bottom of the nostril.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Story of the Four Bears

You’ve heard the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. Here’s the story of the four bears.
I am involved in a fundraiser for a friend, a local pastor’s wife who was diagnosed with a blood cancer, Multiple Myeloma, over four years ago. The last four years has been a constant stream of doctors visits, hospital stays, medications and treatments.  Medical bills not covered by insurance have added up to $75,000. Friends and family of Janice Cline have come together to put on a benefit on March 15, 2014 with the theme "Bear ye one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2), in an attempt to help ease the financial burden of those medical bills.

You know, I wish I could write up a big old check for this cause. Janice was librarian at the school my girls attended, then started teaching 4th grade. She has been a faithful fan at school games when her health permitted.  We have been called “the knitting twins” because we bring our current craft projects to basketball & volleyball games and work on them while cheering on the Falcons.

But this is a year of strict budgeting for me. A period of unemployment last year squeezed our finances. This year we have a wedding to pay for, and a vehicle that sorely needs to be replaced. Instead of giving of my money, I need to focus on giving my time and my talents. I have already made a bear hat/scarf set to build a gift basket around, and I’m also going to make up a Buffalo hat like this one and a hat or scarf in Buffalo Sabres colors. I'll keep my fingers busy making items for the craft table I will have at the event, where a percentage of my sales will also go toward the fundraiser.

So, as I was trying to fall asleep one night, I was thinking of projects I might be able to make for the upcoming benefit. There will be a live auction and a number of silent auctions of gift baskets. As I thought of the theme, “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” I thought of making bear cup cozies. I thought that if I made four cute bear cup cozies, I could put them on disposable cups in a cup holder, and make up a gift basket with a gift card to a local coffee shop. The next day, I started working on the cup cozies, and the photo above is how they turned out.

Now all I need is a “sponsor” to buy the gift card for Tim Hortons! 

And here are the patterns for all four: 

Brown Bear:
Uses Size H hook
About 1 oz knitting worsted weight yarn - brown
Small scraps of off-white and black yarn
Two black buttons (I used 1/2”, with 4 holes)
With brown yarn, make a half-double crochet foundation chain of 30 stitches (or an even number just long enough to fit around your cup). Join with a slip stitch.
There is a tutorial on how to do a half-double crochet foundation row here
Row 1: Ch 2, *raised hdc, hdc* around
(You work a raised hdc by inserting your hook behind the stitch, rather than through the top loops). By alternating raised and regular stitches, you get a ribbed texture and a bit more stretchiness to your work.
Repeat Row 1 until your cozy is the desired height. I worked 12 rows to get about 3-1/2”. Join with slip stitch on the last row, but don’t cut your yarn just yet!
Ears: Skip 2 stitches. Do 7 double crochets in third stitch. Skip 2 stitches. Slip stitch in third, fourth and fifth stitch. Skip 2 stitches. Do 7 double crochets in the next stitch. Skip 2 stitches. Slip stitch in next stitch. Now you can cut the yarn! J
Nose patch:
With off-white yarn, Chain 5
Hdc in third stitch from hook and next stitch. 3 hdc in next stitch. Work 3 hdc in the back side of the chain, and make 2 hdc in the same stitch as your starting hdc. Join with slip stitch.
Row 2: 2 hdc in first stitch, hdc in next next stitch, 2 hdc in next st, hdc in next two stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in next two stitches, 2 hdc in next stitch, hdc in next two stitches, join with slip stitch. (Basically, you are making increases at the four “corners” of your oval). Cut yarn, leaving tail to sew onto body.
With black yarn, Chain 4
Row 1: SC in second chain from hook and each chain across (3 stitches)
Row 2: Work a SC decrease on first two stitches, then a SC in next stitch (2 stitches)
Row 3: Work a SC decrease across both stitches (1 stitch)
Chain  4. Cut yarn, leaving about 20”
Sew onto nose patch, starting with the chain four. See the picture to see how the mouth curves up a bit. Sew around the top of the nose. When you get to your last stitch at the bottom, make a loop on your crochet hook as you pass the needle through to the wrong side of your work. Bring the yarn back up to the right side just under the nose and chain 4. Now use the rest of the yarn to sew that chain 4, just like you did with the other side.
Sew nose patch onto cup cozy. Tuck in yarn ends. All done! 

Polar Bear:

Uses Size H hook
About 1 oz knitting worsted weight yarn - white
Small scraps of black yarn
Two black buttons (I used 1/2”, with 4 holes)

Follow instructions for brown bear, but with white yarn. Don’t do a nose patch. Just put the Nose/Mouth directly onto the cup cozy.

Koala Bear:

Uses Size H hook
About 1 oz knitting worsted weight yarn - gray
Small scraps of white and black yarn
Two black buttons (I used 1/2”, with 4 holes)

Make cup cozy with gray yarn. When you finish off, don’t cut the gray yarn. Attach white yarn and do ears in white. Cut white yarn. Go back to your gray yarn and do SC over the stitches of the ears.
Koala Nose:
With black yarn, chain 7.
Row 1: Hdc in 3rd stitch from hook and each stitch (5 stitches.
Row 2 and Row 3: Chain 2, turn, hdc in each stitch
Row 4: Skip 2 stitches. 7 Double Crochet in next stitch. Skip two stitches. Slip stitch in last stitch. Cut yarn, leaving 8” or so for sewing to cup cozy.

Panda Bear:

Uses Size H hook
About 1 oz knitting worsted weight yarn - white
Small scraps of black yarn
Two white buttons (I used 1/2”, with 4 holes)

Make cup cozy with white yarn.
Ears (Make 2): Make magic ring. Chain 3 and make 8 hdc in ring. Pull tight, but don’t join stitches with slip stitch.  Chain 3 and turn. Make 2 hdc in each stitch. Cut yarn, leaving 6” or so for sewing to cup cozy. The ear is in a “Pac-Man” shape. Sew one side of his mouth to the top of the cup cozy, and the other side to one of the ribs of the cozy.
Nose: Follow directions for brown bear nose, but don’t do the chain 4 at the end.

Eyes: Make 2: Make magic ring. Chain 3 and make 10 dc in ring. Pull tight. Join with slip stitch. Cut yarn, leaving 6” or so for sewing on.
Sew a white button to each eye, slightly off-center towards the bottom.
Sew eyes and nose to cup cozy as shown in picture.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the free patterns, please consider making a donation to Janice's Stem Cell Transplant fund. You can give through the Give Forward website, or contact me if you would like to contribute toward the coffee gift card for this gift basket. Every little bit helps!